Guatemalan Congressman, Journalist Killed

October 1, 2004

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) – Anescalating wave of violence in this troubledcountry this week claimed the life ofCongressman Carlos Miralda, who waskilled Tuesday morning by hit men,according to police.The 72-year-old congressman of theopposition party Unity of National Hope(center-right) and his assistant weregunned down by unidentified assailants inthe department of Santa Rosa, Chuilapa, 62kilometers east of the capital.Police have yet to identify a motive.Miralda is the first congressman killedin Guatemala during the eight-month presidencyof Oscar Berger, who has beenunable to curb a wave of violence that hasclaimed the lives of 3,000 Guatemalans –including 370 women – this year.On Tuesday night, 72-year-old journalistMiguel Angel Morales, secretarygeneral of Guatemala’s National PressCircle, was gunned down as he drove withhis wife on a highway in the northwesternpart of the country. Police have arrestedtwo suspects in connection with the killing.The murders renewed the public cry foran end to the violence.LAST July, Jaime Cáceres, presidentof the National Electrification Institute,became the first Guatemalan governmentofficial to be killed this year in what policeare calling a car jacking. Panamanianauthorities later detained two Guatemalanmen who were trying to sell Cáceres’ vehiclein Panama City.Less than a month later, MayorMarciano Pérez was shot to death in thewestern municipality of Génova CostaCuca, 206 kilometers west of the capital(TT, Aug. 6).According to the Ministry of theInterior, most violence in Guatemala is aresult of organized crime and powerstruggles between youth gangs, whichcontinue to haunt the areas surroundingthe capital.Dozens of public transportation driversthat cover the western side of thecapital declared a work stoppage Tuesdaymorning to demand increased security,following the Monday night murder of abus driver.“WE cannot continue working in thisclimate of violence. Last Sept. 14 anotherbus driver was killed. We cannot continueto provide our service,” said one of theprotesting bus drivers.The violence has also seriously affectedthe female population. From Sunday toTuesday afternoon of this week, eightwomen were killed in various locationsthroughout the country.Susana Villarán, special rapport to theOrganization of American States (OAS)who last week visited Guatemala to investigatethe violence against women, filed areport before the Inter-American Commissionon Human Rights calling the situationof impunity “deplorable.”President Berger has admitted hisgovernment has not been able to curbcrime, and last July deployed militarytroops to the streets of Guatemala Citywith the aim of quelling the violence (TT,July 30).

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